Bible Study Notes:
These notes are from a transcript of the postings during Bible Study on Friday Nights at 7 PM at Bible Study Chat at churchusa.com. You are welcome to join us!
your Word as we begin tonight. Bless those who hear it,
let it lift their hearts, ease their pain, and defeat
their discouragements. Cleanse us and make us fit to
receive it. Father we lift our prodigals to you, any of
your other lost sheep that you have led to us. Help us to
love them and to see beyond their pain and rebellion to
their needy hearts. satan we bind your power in their
lives and command you to leave them, in Jesus' Name. Lord
loose the Holy Spirit to work in their lives and bring
people across their paths to minister your love to them.
Father prepare your servants to minister to you and for you. Cleanse us and fill us with your Holy Spirit. Dear blessed Father guide our hearts and minds tonight. Open our eyes to see the scriptures as you want us to see them, in Jesus name, your will be done. Holy Spirit, we look to YOU as our teacher. Lead us in the way everlasting. Hallelujah. AMEN. Father, we are so thankful for your Word, and we are thankful that you have opened our eyes to your treasures. Father we pray that a great longing for your words come over your children and that your people will begin to truly hunger and thirst after righteousness. AMEN. We commit this study to you, Father, in Jesus Name. AMEN
Praise the Lord. Last time we covered the first 14 verses of Ephesians chapter 1, which speak of our spiritual blessings in Christ. These blessings include redemption, forgiveness, etc. Be sure to take time to read over these verses when you get a chance.
In Chapter 1, verses 15-23, Paul gives us a taste of his prayer life. This prayer is powerful, and you can pray this prayer for yourself, if you want to really be blessed with knowledge.
Ephesians 1:15-16: For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
As I said, this is a sample of one of the apostle Paul's prayers for believers. It is awesome! I get excited when I hear about a new believer in Jesus, and Paul did too. When someone comes to Christ on this chat line, and the believers start praising God, sometimes that person wonders what's wrong. But it's thrilling for a new person to be born into the kingdom and it's worth rejoicing about!
Notice that Paul not only heard about the Ephesians faith in Jesus, but their love for all the saints. In the New Testament, the word saints refers to all believers, it means "holy ones" set aside for God's use. Though we may not believe it, and sometimes we don't act like it, we are all saints!
Verse 17: I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
Notice in verse 17 that Paul "keeps asking" - he didn't just pray for the Ephesians once, but he kept on asking, for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. The more I talk to people, especially in chat, the more I realize that you can't understand God by intellect alone, you need God's wisdom and revelation.
Why did Paul pray for the Sprit of wisdom and revelation? So that the Ephesians might know God better. This is what the true goal of all of our learning should be - to know God better. I was reading the other day about the founding of some of our most prestigious universities - Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. They were all founded as Christian institutions with the goal of knowing God. Harvard was founded by the Puritans and they declared that the end of all study should be to know God. SIGH, how things have changed in education.
Hallelujah, though, we can still pursue the knowledge of God. To pray this prayer for yourself, as I suggested earlier, you might say something like this: Lord give ME the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that I might know YOU better...
Verses 18-21: I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Paul prays that the "eyes of your heart may be enlightened". What do you think this means? To be enlightened means to be full of light. We cannot SEE without light, and we SEE spiritual things with our hearts.
Paul asks for three things in this verse: first "to know the hope to which He has called you". What is this hope? As for the hope, I think we have many, many things to hope for as a Christian, but the most glorious hope is the Second Coming of our Lord. Then we will receive the many things he has promised us. The unbelieving do not have this hope. We hope for the parts of the plan of salvation that we have not yet received.
In another place Paul speaks of Gentiles being without God and without hope in the world. When you think about it, IF the only thing you have to look forward to, as non-believers do, is old age and death, what is there to live for? Unhappily, I meet a lot of Christians without hope.
I think that is why so many fret about material things, and their appearance and what the neighbors think. Our definition of hope in this life is kind of shaky. But here it is something more solid - remember that faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things not seen. In other words, as a Christian what we hope for is based on God's promises and our faith in them. What could be more solid that God's promises?
If we can't trust God's promises, who can we trust? What is there to hope for? Faith is not a blind leap into the unknown for the Christian. It is based on God's nature, how He has dealt with us in the past, the examples in scripture, and the evidence of Christ's love for us in the cross.
Our salvation is assured, but we do hope for the parts that we have not received as yet - our new bodies and the New Jerusalem. Remember that in the Bible hope is not uncertainty - as in "I'm a hoping and a praying". It is an ANCHOR for the soul, steadfast and sure.
Salvation contains ALL that Christ purchased for us on the cross, redemption through His blood, forgiveness, healing, wholeness AND eternal life. You might say it's a package deal!!! And what a package! And there's no "easy payment plan" or interest payments!
The second thing that Paul prays for the Ephesians to be enlightened about is " the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints". What do you think this means?
I never noticed this before, but it says HIS glorious inheritance in the saints. Christ's inheritance in US! Wow - to God His riches are US.... That will blow your mind away! Just think about what we mean to Him - we are His inheritance! That ought to be a cure for your bad self-image. God owns it all, but His real treasure is YOU.
If we could just get Christians to recognize how important they are to God! Incredible, but God's Word says it and I believe it! Praise be to God for this wonderful revelation from His Word. Thank you Lord for this incredible thought, we are Your treasure!!!!!
The third thing Paul prays for the Ephesians to get light on is "his incomparably great power for us who believe". Well, this is the cure for the weak and wimpy. Not only has God lavished hope on us and treasures us as His true riches, He has unleashed His mighty power on our behalf.
Paul goes on to say, "That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come."
The resurrection power of God is real today and is still at work in our lives, if we would just allow it to work! Paul says (I think in Romans) If that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwell in you, He will quicken (make alive) your mortal body!
Not only did God raise Jesus from the dead, but He also raised Him up into heaven and seated Christ at His right hand - which symbolizes power and authority. Far above all dominion and power and might - way above any earthly or satanic power or government. Above any title: President, Governor, Your Holiness, Supreme Commander of the Universe - no title on earth is greater than our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only in Paul's day or our day, but forever and ever and ever!!!!
And let me give you a hint of what's coming soon - Ephesians 2:6 - AND RAISED US UP WITH HIM - hallelujah - when problems assault you, when you feel low, when things aren't going well, just look DOWN, because all these things are BELOW you in Christ Jesus. This always makes me so excited. If we Christians could only see ourselves as God sees us - that would solve about 90% of our problems.
All He wants in return our love. In gratitude for this, doesn't it make you want to serve Him better, not because of obligation or duty, but out of adoration and thanks? This is where true devotion comes in: we serve Him gladly, not because we HAVE to, but because we WANT to!
This is what the world cannot see - God is not a mean old man upstairs with a big fly swatter waiting for us to stumble - He is our loving Father who has provided all we need here and hereafter.
Verses 22-23: And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
(Sometimes problems with our earthly fathers give us a hard time understanding unconditional love.) And I guess that's what happens to a lot of people. It's so sad when fathers abandon their true calling - to love their families unconditionally. I guess the only way to approach it is to recognize what was lacking in your relationship with your father and search the scriptures to find it in your heavenly Father. SIGH, there's going to be a lot for fathers and mothers to answer for come judgement day!
So to continue our prayer, we could say something like this: Father, give me Your light that my heart can see the glorious hope - that confident expectation - you have called me to! Father, help me to see and to remember that I am your treasure and that my brothers and sisters in Christ are treasures too - your glorious riches.
And Father help me to see and experience and make use of that power from you that is beyond compare, that power that raised Christ from the dead, that power that can make me alive and can make my life victorious. Oh God, right now, manifest that power in me!
And Father help me to see Christ seated at your right hand in heavenly places, far above any power that may try to harm me, far above my circumstances that try to defeat me, far above all things in the earth, far above any schemes the devil may try to hatch against me.
And above all, Father, let me see myself, seated in heavenly places with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, with all things under my feet!!! Hallelujah, Father, thank you for the victory in Jesus Name AMEN!!!!
Hallelujah - if we prayed that prayer every morning - what would each day be like! I'm going to challenge myself to do that very thing! How about you?
Ephesians 2:1-2: As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
We're beginning with Ephesians chapter 2. Paul has just told us about our spiritual blessings in Christ, and then we looked over the prayer he prayed for the Ephesians. Now he turns to us and further explains what we were like before Jesus came and what he did for us.
Paul says that we WERE dead in transgressions and sins. These transgressions and sins came from following the ways of the world and following the devil. What are some of the ways of the world that trip us up?
World in this sense comes from the Greek word kosmos, which means the whole world order that is set up to lead us astray from God, the situations, circumstances and expectations of men and women that we allow to come between us and God.
We are often caught up in the ways of the world without meaning to be - such as the constant racket of the "entertainment industry" that takes up so much of our time and teaches us immorality. By this I don't mean it's a sin to watch TV or go to a movie - just that these things can take the place of our devotion time with God.
(Peer pressure is one name for it) and it's not only teenagers that have a problem with this. One translation of Romans 12:1 says: "Don't let the world squeeze you into its mold, but be transfigured by the renewal of your minds". FAITH comes by hearing the word. I would also add fellowship with believers and prayer as ways to renew the mind.
We fight the impulse to sin in three arenas: the world, the flesh and the devil. The world is kosmos, which we've discussed. The flesh (Greek sarx, mentioned in v. 3) we'll get to in a minute. This verse gives us some insight into the devil. The devil is called "the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. "
In the KJV, it is "the prince of the power of the air". When lucifer rebelled against God, he was cast out of heaven with 1/3 of the angels. When man sinned and followed satan's command, the devil got dominion in this earth - and is at work even as we speak, making sinners disobey even more. The "kingdom of the air is the unseen realm, the spirit realm, where the devil works.
I have a theory, but might sound kind of weird at first, but I always wondered how tempting thoughts get in our minds. I believe our minds are kind of like TV sets - they can receive signals from God or satan. It is up to us to "tune to the right channel" and receive holy thoughts and not evil ones. It's also true that what we allow in our minds will create our thoughts. We need to fill our thoughts with the Word of God continually.
Notice too that the devil is "at work" - he is continually trying to create disobedience to God in us all! How could the devil possibly think he can win? Maybe he knows he's lost, but out of spite still is trying to steal all of our souls he can.
Verse 3: All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
Here, our sinful nature is the flesh, and it is something we have to deal with all the time. It wants to be gratified. It wants its cravings fulfilled. It is full of desires and thoughts that war against God. And when we were sinners, even if we were "moral" sinners, we lived to please the flesh. Following the world, the flesh and the devil, made us "objects of wrath". In other words, we earned the wage of sin which is death.
Verses 4-5: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.
Not only did we deserve death, we were dead, living in our sinfulness, BUT -- when you see "but", this means something's gonna change -- But God because of His great love, because we were His lost treasures, because He is rich in mercy - made a way for us to live! By grace - the unmerited favor of God - His free gift, given when we didn't think we needed it, didn't ask for it, didn't want it - gave us life!
Verses 6-7: And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
If you don't remember any thing else from this study, remember AND GOD RAISED US UP WITH CHRIST. This is where God sees us - this is where we need to see ourselves! We are seated with Christ in heavenly places. Praise the Lord forever!
I hope this leaves you rejoicing with a new sense of who you are in Christ and what you mean to God!!!!
Father God, take the seed of what you have given us tonight, water it with your Word, give it light, make it grow, and let us have a harvest of victory. Let us remember what you have spoken to us! Let us be witnesses of your love to all we meet. AMEN
Remember, whenever God gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate on what you've learned!
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